books v film

Book v Film: Horns

Won’t you guess my name?

Horns was one of those ones where I saw the film before reading the book.

Is it just me or do you find that if you see the film before reading the book that you enjoy them both on a more equal footing?

I find that if I read the book first then I generally find the films less enjoyable. I have to work hard to get past my own mental image of the characters, locations etc I also find that I miss the bits they cut more as well. But if I watch the film first then I enjoy both the film and books. I’m not sure if this is to do with the fact that watching a film is a much more passive exercise than reading, or if I’m just happier to accept the actors as my mental image of characters, or if the films I watch before reading the books are just great bloody films.

I think this might be the case with Horns.

The film was fantastic, wonderfully acted, wonderfully scored, it really sucked me in and made me want to go read the book.

Naturally, there are still some differences between the two mediums but before I got into those I wanted to give a little bit of thought as to why my mind works the way it does. 

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books v film

Book V Film: The Tommyknockers

Fight, Fight, Fight

Today I am writing to you again about the unending war of books versus film. In this letter, I am going to be pitting Tommyknockers against each other.

The book was written by Stephen King and published in 1987. It was a rare dip into science fiction for King who has since stated that he thinks it is an awful book. So, we’re off to a good start.

The straight to TV multi-series was released in 1993, broadcast on ABC originally and directed by John Power.

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books v film

Book v Film: The Mist

Fight, Fight, Fight

Today I want to talk to you about one of my favourite writers and an adaptation of one of their novellas. I’d like to look at the adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’. The novella was released in 1985 in the collection ‘The skeleton Crew’, while the film came out in 2007.

In my opinion, the main things that changed when the novella got adapted were the atmosphere and tone of the story. I want to focus this blog on the elements that the director changed which I feel has effected these.

The most obvious in my opinion is the pacing, the novella, for all it is short at only 130 pages, is a slow burn. Everything in the novella takes time, the characters are introduced gently and given time to establish themselves before we get to the monsters (the first one doesn’t show up until the second third of the novella). King uses the first third of the story to foreshadow, build tension and most importantly make you care and connect with the characters.

The film jumps almost straight to the action, we get a brief introduction of our main character, his son and his neighbour all before we’re whisked away into the supermarket where the bulk of the film takes place. I understand that films will struggle with pacing compared to novels and novellas, they are a completely different medium so we struggle to spend time in our MC’s head, films also have a limited run time so it’s natural that they might cut some of the ‘fluff’ but the world and character building does suffer for it in my opinion.

Photo by Matt Hardy on
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books v film

Books v Film: The Ruins

Fight, fight, fight

Today I am writing to you about creepy plants.

The Ruins is a novel by Scott Smith, that was released in July 2006. The novel is set in Mexico and tells the story of a group of tourists, who while exploring rural Yucatán accidentally find themselves trapped on top of a hill, where they are hunted by an unexpected predator. 

The film of the same name was released in 2008 and is relatively faithful to the novel. However, where the novel received high praise the film has been criticised. This is a good example of situations where a story is better told via a novel or other written media as opposed to a visual storytelling media. This is mostly because the film had to leave out a lot of the detail that the novel portrayed easily. It is the level of detail in the novel that grounds the reader deeply into the story.

By staying deeply inside the heads of the main characters as they try to understand their situation and devise a means of escape, Smith effectively creates a tense and terrifying atmosphere. This atmosphere simply cannot be reproduced in a solely visual medium.

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books v film, Horror Writing

Books V Film: The Shining

Here’s Johnny

Stephen King’s The Shining by Stanley Kubrick is perhaps one of the most well-known horror films out in the world today.

Many are familiar with the story, the quotes, memorable moments and the countless spoof versions roaming the land.

The Simpsons one is my personal favourite, I love the scene of the blood coming out of the elevator, Mr Burns is not freaked out but confused as the blood normally gets off on a different floor, oh and Homer scaring himself by looking in the mirror is awesome.

But spoofs aside, the book was pretty different, at least in places. To the point where there are rumours that King strongly disliked the Kubrick film due to these changes.

Today I want to talk about the differences between Stephen King’s story and Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic version.

books v film, Horror Writing, Uncategorized

Books v Film: A thought.

Perception matters

I’ve been writing to you a lot lately about books v films, talking about the adaptation process from book to film and what gets changed or lost as a result.

I was going to write to you about Horns today (awesome book go read it, also an awesome film go watch it) but it got me thinking, which lead to something of a mental tangent.

With Horns, I saw the film before I read the book and to be honest, this is my preferred way to do things. I often find that if I watch the film after reading the book, I will nearly always prefer the book, although there may be the odd exception.

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books v film, Horror Writing

Books v Film: Haunting of Hill House

Welcome home Nell

Personally, I love series’ as a vehicle for turning books to film and I am writing to you about this today.

In my opinion, books going to film doesn’t often work simply because you don’t have the same level of time with a film that you do a book. A series negates that problem, you have tons of time for tension building, character building and storytelling. Take Game of Thrones for an example, there are 69 episodes, at the time of writing, of this show! At least an hour or more a piece. That’s a ton of time! Now imagine each season was condensed down into a 2hr film. Think of what you’d lose.

Recently Netflix released The Haunting of Hill House, its awesome, go watch it. The second season has trailers out now and everything and I’m very excited for it to start. This is a perfect example of why a series worked well, it was tense in places, had great characters and a gripping, engaging story. I’m not saying none of the film adaptations worked but none of them managed to capture the feel of the book as well as the series did.

Anyway, today I want to talk about turning this story into ‘film’

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books v film, Horror Writing, Reviews

Books V Film: Pet Semetery

Sometimes dead is better

As you will have no doubt picked up on I love horror, and one of my all-time favorite horror writers is Stephen King. He’s well known (understatement) for his creepy story’s and chilling tales, as well as his own little tropes and habits. Something else he’s well known for is that his books do not always transfer to film particularly well.

In my opinion a film will never hold up to a book but that’s not necessarily the film’s fault. You can do things with a book that you simply can’t do with a film. Books are more immersive, they employ the reader’s imagination, all their senses and they are a lot longer than films. There’s a reason the Lord of the Rings was three epic films long (and still had a load of stuff cut), the book was huge.

Today I’m going to look at one of my favorite books that were made into a film (which is also high on my favorites list) and talk about what was cut, what was added and which I think is superior.

Pet Semetery

The novel was released in 1983 and I will be comparing it to the 1989 film.

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books v film, Horror Writing

Books v Film: Eaters of the Dead

Lions tigers and bears, oh my

While I was at university, I discovered the film 13th Warrior and it quickly became a solid favourite.  It’s a fun film with horror elements, fantasy elements, monsters, Vikings, and adventure. I enjoyed it as a film for a long time before I was even aware that it was based on a book by Michael Crichton called Eaters of the Dead. Crichton even did some of the directing on the film and was one of the producers.

So naturally, my enjoyment of this story has led me to want to include it in my series Books v Film. I was also interested to see if my preference for the film or book differed as this is one of the rare occasions where I watched the film before, I read the book.

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